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Bees at work (XXVII). Why are employees quitting?

The cicadas are loudly singing this year.  Wishing you a lovely beginning of April 2022. As with any Tuesday, the difference this year is that the cicadas season is remarkably noticeable in town, probably in several tropical countries too. These interesting insects appear usually before Easter, to ignite this warmer time of year with their folk melodies. Enjoy their natural music too!

I would like you to see a pilot testing of opera and wine/alizarin mixes of pigments for a new aquarelle that I am currently accomplishing. Before I start painting, I always conduct several little exercises for sampling the colors. These exercises help me in defining which technique to utilize in the final big canvas project. If you see with careful attention, each of the petals has been painted using a different strategy and a distinct palette of mixed colors.

“Winery Plumeria”. A test for colors aquarelle. Size: 5 inches x 7 inches. Paper: Baohong Cold-pressed Medium 100% cotton “The master choice”.

We will initiate our article by summarizing in one paragraph our past publication’s main core message: An hybrid working model is something to test, but it is worthy. As I did with painting the plumeria flower above, it is worthy to test different mixes of hybrid schemes, so we can finally decide on the better one. Also when testing, we are able to go back and forth, to find out which suitable petal looks better. Also, we learn to make mistakes. And it is fine. Usually what we conceived in the first place is not the final result, because we adapt, improve and even transform in several loops. That is DBR (Design-based research) applied to painting. Of course, the petals of the flower are not immaculate or flawless at all. We can make errors, learn from them, take notes (keep a journal), study the circumstances, and then fix the affairs. You will see my final plumeria oeuvre in the last chapter of this saga. Stay tuned!

It is possible to be 100% productive, by working less. Many “white collar” workers experienced what was to work under a WFH scheme, and regardless that it has obvious benefits: it is comfortable to don´t go out from home every day; many enjoyed don´t taking a shower or getting dressed, others perceived the savings in transportation, and further such as cafeteria food expenses, or others got used to the convenience of not taking kids to school during lockdowns. However, WFH also has disadvantages, for our health, accumulated fatigue, and hard bear non-boundaries of the mélange between personal-professional space. In our last post, we have opened a testing phase for a hybrid working model of 6 hours a day schedule (a total of 120 working hours per month for every employee, in every industry and economic sector). The flexibility of the hybrid model requires DBR (Design-Based Research) testing in different adaptable arrangements, with the purpose to prove that we need to get rid of the current model of 160 hours/month, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. It is possible to be 100% productive, by working less.

Eureka!. If we work on the same schedule as our kids. We continued polishing our idea of 6 working hours a day (no matter if WFH or working in the office), adapting our schedules around approximately the same 6 hours that our kids spend in school. Also, we switched our fitness time for later, after picking up kids at school, and we propose that fitness or exercise workouts can be shared by the family (whenever is possible). And look what has happened: We can attain 6 hours of family time too!

Our hybrid model under the format of 6 working hours a day, can coincide with the time in which our kids are at school. The result: family time can expand to 6 hours if fitness and hobbies are done together.

Are employees really quitting their jobs? Let´s continue with an analysis of a phenomenon that has taken place even before the appearance of the COVID19.  If people are quitting their jobs, not just in the United States, but also in many other developed economies, it is because of different wants and needs along with some required changes. Citizens are screaming loudly in silence, that they need more time for themselves and their families.  Nevertheless, please be sure that individuals are not leaving their employment for something worst, they are trying or at least doing it for something better. So let´s begin.

COVID19 triggered a change. The pandemic of COVID-19 forced the majority of us to experience several months of lockdown. We were forced to stay at home. And after the panic in which employers had no idea of what to do, petit a petit, the remote mode of Working from Home (WFH) came on the way into our routines. We stopped waking up early in the morning to organize our commuting times to our offices, our businesses, etc. and we carried out everything to stay at home. Meanwhile, schools were closed, mom and dad experienced what was the significance of working from home, having children and teens around the operating work remote space (usually the dining room). Let´s move a step further: Once schools tried virtual distance education, parents observed the test on how to overpass the chaos of maintaining their kids with different screens using the Internet; meanwhile, the children were taking courses with unprepared professors for digital education.  After a while, when we found out how to communicate using video-conference platforms, we discovered that we were feeling tired at the end of the day and we couldn’t sleep easily either. Then, once we had a proven flexible timetable, we also realized that the fatigue was not only draining our health (regardless of the many youtube yoga and pilates videos available online) but also the lack of mobility and going out regularly was causing us stiffness, anti-social attitudes and some anxiety with cerebral and spiritual troubles.   Finally, many industries were so broken, that a considerable amount of us was fired or decided to resign in advance.

Regardless of the experience that workers went through, the testing was harsh. For some the change was positive. For others, the change was not so pleasant and even negative. Finally, for the rest, it was the same thing. However, there is something so specific that all of us realized during the pandemic: for the first time, we understood in our minds, hearts, and souls that our lives are merely hanging there without proper quality family time, and that truly shocked us. We simply do not have time to stay or at least to live a worthy and substantial time with our family members.

Why the voluntary resignation? When I prepared the agenda for this saga, that was by the end of December 2021. At that time, companies started to report that their employees were resigning. And basically what has certainly happened (based on numbers) is that some activities are experiencing a greater turnover than usual. These activities, not by coincidence, are related to industries that were hit the most by the COVID19 virus. For instance, industries such as leisure, hospitality, entertainment, health-care services, trade logistics and transportation, and education (professors).  It is comprehensible. No one wanted to work in a sector that requires personal contact when the sickness is transmitted deadly because of being near each other. In addition, for the knowledge and administrative jobs (which are called white-collar positions), voluntary resignation also appeared, regardless of the remote mode that fits perfectly for their tasks which can technically be performed anywhere. Not only at home but from a Starbucks establishment, any other coffee shop, or inside a co-working environment.

The resignation has come in the context for which it was plausible to do it. According to Pew Research Center, the majority of workers in the United States, who retire voluntarily from their assignments, did it because of low pay, no opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected. I also have found that many elder workers who were going to retire soon, decided to leave in advance. So in reality it is a mix of several causes. For those of working age, it wasn´t a quitting, but a switching.  Those who have quit, have found a new job, started an entrepreneur endeavor, or are now employed; and have found a salary raise, lucky them, also a more work-life balance and flexibility.  Look at the slide below:

Reasons for quitting, Pew Research Center.

The reasons given by employees to leave are: The consulting firm McKinsey has studied the same situation and basically, they have grouped the why of voluntary leaving in three big groups:

  1. Because employees are upset,
  2. Because employees can do it,
  3. Because they are exhausted.
Why are employees leaving? Source: McKinsey Co.

Moreover, employees have returned to traditional employment: Mainly because they have been able to negotiate better pay, with flexible work-schedule arrangements, and the big majority have pushed employers to accept a hybrid model. In addition, almost 25% of those returners, have been successful and do hold a hybrid model now. In addition, they have done it under the new non-conventional scheme: Employees work 80% of the time for 100% of the pay and maintain 100% productivity. In human terms: they have won the right to work 128 hours per month (6.4 hours a day-5 days week, or 7.5 hours a day-4 day week).

Reducing working hours to attend to the youth. Please see the above slide again (we prepared it for you last Friday). The main reason why people all over the world need to reduce their working schemes to fewer hours a day is in front of our eyes. People are not getting enough time to share with their kids and teens. Once time passes by, the time for parenting flies away, and children or teens have been educated not by parents, but by watching Smartphone youtube videos or social media because mom and dad were fictional and absent. This is the reason why Generation Z is or will be in difficult struggles and obstacles unless we seriously initiate a repair of their brains. We hope they can be fixed during the next decade or so. The cognitive development of this newest generation is handicapped by a lack of integral innovation and limited memory capacity. Do you know that cognitive development is a gradual process that increases year over year through the capacity of working memory? The youngest minds can´t hold the information long enough in their brains, to mentally reproduce the situations under different contexts and solve riddles alone, without a Smartphone. As a result, they are struggling with problem-solving. Ironically they were educated using a Smartphone to find solutions, but they can´t do it properly, because their cognitive development is weak or without a 360-degree contextual mindset. This is why it is so important to be aware of this situation. Any teacher or manager who is dealing with these younger university students or new recent graduates can confirm what I am stating here today.

The bottom line: People are quitting because they want and need a balanced work-personal life.

This is it for today. We will proceed with the Strategic Music Section. See you next Friday with the subject: “Living to work? Or Working to live?”

Strategic Music section. Opera, for numerous, is boring. On purpose for us is beautiful, because we know what is a good opera. A good well-construed opera is a complex interpretation, equivalent to seeing three films with 10 Oscars winners each.  Actors who are considered for opera must be extremely gifted. Opera is one of the most multifaceted and complicated performances existing on earth because it involves 4  different types of art: excellent theater or theatrical presentation skills, dancing, singing with stunning voices a capella, and the playing of an orchestra.    An opera is a “real-life representation” with scenery, costumes as well as movement. Typically it is a staged drama or libretto, set to music in its entirety, with a wide range of solos, ensembles, and choral singers on stage with qualified “over-the-top” voices. As mentioned previously, the performers of opera since its inception, often require exceptional actors who can dance and sing at the same time. The instrumental accompaniment is usually with orchestral overtures and interludes. Originally, this concept of intertwined multidimensional art was coined in the Italian phrase “opera in musica”, or “work in music”.

The late Maria Callas, Renée Flemming and Aida Garifullina are opera singers. The Ave María of Schubert is a classical song in wedding ceremonies. So I chose one of the most popular pieces of opera I can recall.  I hope you compared their voices. Each voice is unique, while exquisite and pleasant. We wanted to share their voices to put a new “wake up” card on the table: opera is disappearing because younger audiences do not like it, they do not know the value of opera, and they can´t like what they don´t know. They have no idea how hard it is to be an opera performer; and also because this genre of music has not been taught to be devoured for many last decades, as much as the reggaeton, hip-hop, or other urban electronic trendy genres of music.  It will be a pity bad luck if we also lose the opera in the future.

Songs for today are from Jon Batiste: The trio that we have picked up for you are “I need you”; “Freedom” and “Sing”. Enjoy the jazz, rhythm, and blues.

See you next Friday, blessings, and thank you for reading to me.

A new saga is coming…

Sources of reference used for this publication


Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, most of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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